SQ788 opponents cite language of measure rather than decry medical marijuana itself

State Question 788 would, for supporters, remove obstacles to the medicinal use of marijuana already allowed in 30 other states, but for opponents, the gates would be opened too wide.

Proponents of the ballot question insist Oklahoma patients need safe, legal access to medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms stemming from chronic pain, chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Many leading the effort to defeat SQ788, on the ballot Tuesday, say they could support a much more narrow medical marijuana program for certain medical conditions. They oppose the quantities allowed by the current measure and the fact that 788 would allow cannabis use for any condition so long as its use was sanctioned by a doctor. If approved, however, the statutes it puts in place can be altered by the Legislature.

Karmen Hanson, a state cannabis program expert with the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, said Oklahoma would definitely be distinguishing itself in having a program that does not specify qualifying medical conditions.

“States usually start with five to 10 and then add more (qualifying conditions),” Hanson said. “There are some states that have a sort of catch-all clause to the effect of ‘any other condition the physician believes use of cannabis can help with.’” Maybe 10 to 12 states have that — not a majority allow doctor discretion.”

Hanson said SQ788 would also set Oklahoma apart from most other states with medical marijuana programs in establishing a 7 percent excise tax on products rather than charging standard sales tax, which is currently 4.5 percent. In a quick check, she could find that only Illinois and New York impose such a separate excise tax.

“Most states don’t have a specific

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